Pelagius in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

Probably a native of Britain, who was celebrated as the propagator of those heretical opinions which have derived their name from him, and which were opposed with great energy by his contemporaries Augustine and Jerome. He first appears in history about the beginning of the fifth century A.D., when we find him residing at Rome. In the year 409 or 410, when Alaric was threatening Rome, Pelagius, accompanied by his disciple and ardent admirer Caelestius, passed over to Sicily, from thence proceeded to Africa, and leaving Caelestius at Carthage, sailed for Palestine. The fame of his sanctity had preceded him, for upon his arrival he was received with great warmth by St. Jerome and many other distinguished fathers of the Church. Soon afterwards the opinions of Pelagius were denounced as heretical; and in A.D. 417 Pelagius and Caelestus were anathematized by Pope Innocentius. Their doctrines included a denial of the tenet of original sin; a belief in the possibility of a sinless life on earth; and a rejection of the teaching of the Church with regard to grace. Pelagius also believed in the freedom of the human will. The date and circumstances of his death are not known. A very few only of the numerous treatises of Pelagius have descended to us. They are printed with the works of St. Jerome. There are special monographs on Pelagius by Wiggers (Eng. tr. Andover, 1840); Jacobi (1842); W├Ârter (1866); and Klasen (1882).

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